The role of women artists in the theatre reform of the early 20th century is usually underestimated. This paper strives to reassess the agency of a female performer (Gertrud Eysoldt) in this process, concentrating on the premiere production of Elektra by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1903, Kleines Theater). Hofmannsthal wrote his version of Elektra not only for Max Reinhardt’s company (which he considered to be a new kind of theatre) but also specifically for Eysoldt, and this article focuses on the communication between them. The main sources for this research are texts written by the actress: her article for a newspaper and her letters to Hofmannsthal (published in 1996) and Hermann Bahr (unpublished, Austrian Theatre Museum). These texts are analysed more from the perspective of their poetics than from the perspective of the facts they convey. Eysoldt’s autobiographical writings reveal an unexpected facet of the 'dionysism' that may have attracted Hofmannsthal. Finally, a question is raised about the meaning of the shift that Hofmannsthal made by offering the performer a re-writing of a foundational myth of patriarchal culture.